Todays’ stage put the riders and their expensive, rapid bikes against the clock. So yeah it was set to be a mundane day on the couch, watching and waiting for one man to roll down the ramp, and indefinitely win. Before we get into the details of the stage the main headline was that Alpecin-Fenix had to withdraw all seven riders from the race. Unfortunately, Mathieu Van Der Poel was forced out of any, far-fetched chance of winning the overall. The reason for their withdrawal was due to a staff member testing positive for Covid-19. A mere 12 months after the UAE tour produced cycling’s first positive cases.
This stage race, in the heart of the middle east is typically one of a boring nature because of the long, arrow straight, flat roads, of course barring Jebel Hafeet. There are also never many people on the side of the road, which makes me think, ideal for covid right. The UAE Tour is a sprinter’s paradise but cruelly a race they cannot win overall, despite winning the majority of the stages. This year’s edition has drawn the interest of many of the top name sprinters like: Sam Bennett [Deceuninck-Quickstep], Caleb Ewan [Lotto-Soudal], Jasper Philipsen [Alpecin-Fenix] and Giacomo Nizzolo [Qhuebeka-Assos]. So definitely a race where we’ll see more fist bumping from the bromance of Bennett and Ewan, whilst also seeing who – out of this extensive list of sprinters – has had the best preparation this winter. Like all the other early season races it will certainly set the scene for the 2021 season, and what we can expect from each rider.
Before we begin, stage 1 must be addressed. There was no report simply because there was no footage and I was not about reading another report to just write my own. So without further ado, Bauke Mollema and Trek-Segafredo took the driving seat by obtaining the golden leader’s jersey of Tour de Alpes-Maritimes. He beat a rejuvenated Greg Van Avermaet [AG2R-Citroen]. The highlight from stage 1 though was the team work, or lack of from Groupama-FDJ. They put 4 of their ‘team-leaders’ in the top 10. A feat Movistar would be jealous of. All eyes, pre-stage were on how Tom Pidcock and Ineos would fair given their star-studded line up they have brought to the climber’s race. They did not shine through though, with Tao being the notable headline with a small fall mid-way through the stage. But he continues on like the champ he is.
With this written review, I am commencing Tech Tuesday’s. Where over the course of this year on various Tuesdays, and not necessarily consecutively I’ll be posting written reviews on any and all interesting tech going on in the professional peloton as well as the tech that I use daily as part of my team in Belgium, Carbonbike Discar Academy.
So, let’s start the first Tech Tuesday. I’ll share my thoughts on the looks, beliefs and functionality on the clothing, bikes and other equipment teams are using for the 2021 season. I will be staying as far away as possible from listing all 19 teams in succession, instead looking at teams that show some serious interest with their equipment choices. Both good, and bad.
The final stage of the 2nd stage race of the 2021 season, took the riders 162.5km around the city of Salon-De-Provence. There were 3x 3rd category climbs to contend with, so the bunch sprint was all but inevitable. A breakaway quartet escaped to have a maximum of 3m30s, the bunch do like this number to keep a small, doomed breakaway in check. The 4 riders included the breakaway specialist and two-time tour stage winner, Tony Gallopin [AG2R-Citroen]. Young Norwegian time trial specialist Andreas Luknessund [Team DSM]. Spaniard Luis Mas, no not the brother of the more well-known Mas in the pro peloton. Finally, 3rd division team Xeliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole, represented by Jérémy Leveau.